All around the NFL, the preseason is where players make their mark on a roster. Players spend the few weeks they have battling for a spot on the roster as the starter, back-up, or even the final spot on the depth chart. These are truthfully the most significant decisions the coaching staff makes in the preseason. For example last year, former Redskins safety Su’a Cravens made the roster (as expected) and inexplicably left the team as he contemplated retirement. This decision, if known before shaping the final 53-man roster, would have undoubtedly altered the Redskins decision-making on defense. Hopefully this year drama of that nature is in the past for Washington and the talk can be on solely positional battles.
The Redskins have question marks at a few positions noticeably at left guard, wide receiver, running back, and cornerback. Shawn Lauvao was recently re-signed by Washington, after being an unrestricted free agent for a couple of months. Heading into the pre-season he is likely the favorite, but can anyone on the roster challenge Lauvao for the starting role? There is no doubt the position can use some stability moving forward. Tyler Catalina, Kyle Kalis, and Arie Kouandjio are the familiar names at the position that are expected to challenge Shawn; time will tell if there is anyone outside of the known lineman that can challenge the seasoned veteran. As of now, Arie Kouandjio has the best chance to unseat the veteran to me, but at least for 2018, Lauvao is the starting guard for the Redskins following pre-season camp battles.
At running back, there is no question that the top of the depth chart is settled. However, there is a need for a third running back, a spell back. One who can spot running backs Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson as needed, with little drop off in effectiveness and fresh legs. With the running back position you will likely need four running backs on game day, so there will be an opportunity for two backs to make the roster behind Guice and Thompson.
The leader of the pack will be Samaje Perine, the second-year running back had extensive work as the number one back following the injuries to Chris Thompson and Robert Kelley. Expected to take over as the number one back in 2017 eventually, Perine was somewhat underwhelming in his first year given the ball security issues, and often ineffectiveness as a power runner.
The Redskins under head coach Jay Gruden have given players they invested in multiple chances to provide dividends for the team, and nothing will change with Samaje Perine. So Perine will likely serve as the third running back for Washington leaving Kapri Bibbs, Byron Marshall, and Rob Kelley to head the battle for the projected fourth and final roster spot at running back. The Robert Kelley story was good in 2016 and early 2017, but the short-lived feel-good story about the former college fullback will come to an end in 2018 as a Redskin. Expect Kapri Bibbs to be the final Redskins RB on the roster.
The wide receiver position battle will be an interesting one for the fact that Jay Gruden has love for these guys. Again, top of the depth chart is settled with Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, and Paul Richardson. Under those three you have bubble players in Maurice Harris and Robert Davis. Those are the leaders to fill in the five and six slots (Brian Quick being fourth on the depth chart). The opportunity is available for players like Simmie Cobbs and Trey Quinn to steal Harris or Davis’s active roster spot. I expect Quinn to do just that, replacing Maurice Harris (unfortunately) as an active player for the Redskins this season.
The cornerbacks will be my focal point heading into training camp, and each spot on the depth chart outside of Josh Norman should be available for the taking. Quinton Dunbar received a contract extension this offseason, which shows the confidence and appreciation the Redskins have in the development of the 2015 undrafted free agent. Behind Norman and Dunbar, Fabian Moreau and Orlando Scandrick are expected to compete as both slot and outside cornerbacks. Moreau likely fits better on the outside, so Dunbar’s main competition probably will be coming from Fabian. This leaves Scandrick the favorite to be the Redskins new slot corner with competition coming from Joshua Hosley and rookie Greg Stroman. My prediction for the cornerback situation is as follows:
CB 1 – Josh Norman
CB 2 – Quinton Dunbar/Fabian Moreau/Orlando Scandrick
Slot CB – Orlando Scandrick/Greg Stroman/Joshua Hosley
What are your way too early position battles for the 2018 pre-season? Let us know.
What Position battle is the most important?
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